Adapting to climate change – how momentum builds resilience

Adapting to climate change – how momentum builds resilience

A few years ago, I attended a fascinating talk by a speaker from the well-respected James Hutton Institute about Climate Change in the UK.

The islands were depicted on a large screen and the graphic rapidly changed colour as it portrayed the documented temperature changes in the UK from 1918-2018. It well-illustrated how the land changed over that period. They then illustrated how it’d look in 2050 and 2100 if the temperature kept changing in this way. That became sobering.

Cut short, we’re facing huge issues. Parts of the south-east will be like a desert and Scotland climate-wise will apparently fare best in Europe!

At the time the talk was fascinating, however the risks did not seem too real. In a short period this has radically changed. I now regularly consider climate change with my clients, as a Scottish agricultural and rural lawyer.

Effectively we are all now dealing with climate change in our daily lives. We’re affected by changes in Government policy which seek to tackle this issue, with Scotland trying to build resilience to the impacts of climate change alongside taking action to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. We can easily understand that these changes are and will continue to have an impact on housing, farming, industry, forestry, green energy, battery storage, and on many aspects of our day-to-day lives from where we live to how we get to work, from the cars we drive to the clean air zones being introduced in our cities. Some of these changes are undoubtedly positive, but I am increasingly interested to see how they are driven by Climate Change.

Agriculture, of interest to me, is inescapably entwined with Scotland’s landscape, and weather and climate change has been affecting farming for many years. I sold one large farm in Ayrshire over 10 years ago and a large factor in the decision was that my clients were concerned that the climate was getting wetter, and wetter and, even then, they feared dairy farming in that location would not be sustainable in the short to medium term.

Climate impacts many of my farming clients in other ways too. It affects decisions about the type of crops to grow, how to adapt management practices to increase soil carbon and productivity, how to develop tools to detect crop stress, to store water during drought periods and to develop strategies to maintain and increase biodiversity within agricultural land. How to deal with weather impacts on arable crops – potatoes and vegetables is another well-versed topic.

I have a client looking to move to Scotland from Southeast England because they have a young family and are concerned about climate change. Last month, another loved a house and its beach location but did not offer because they were concerned about rising sea levels. I have another who wants detailed flood risk information, since having lived in Yorkshire that “once in one hundred years” flood warning is not believed.

So, what is the message. It’s two-fold really. First, climate change is here but second and more positively, slowly but surely, we and those that govern us are researching, adapting, and learning and sharing the knowledge needed to develop resilience. Let’s hope that we adapt rapidly and effectively to benefit people, our precious environment and our economy.

This article was first published in Scottish Land & Estates’ Land Business magazine.

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